Nike's Metaverse Move

Fashion Brands Embrace Gaming to Boost Marketing

Aug 8, 2023

In a bold move to redefine marketing approaches, fashion brands are tapping into the gaming realm as a new path to connect with consumers. The latest Newzoo's consumer research shows that 79% of the total online population engages with video games, nearly 50% of gamers play on more than one platform, in the past six months, 57% of players spent money on video games and players are reacting positively to brands and discovering new brands while gaming.

Gamers have a big potential to be devoted and well-paid clients for fashion brands. That’s why brands Tier-1 release new collaborations with game publishers and the trend spreads.

One prominent example is Nike's foray into the metaverse through a gaming experience titled "Airphoria" within the widely popular game Fortnite. This strategic move by the sportswear giant underscores a shift beyond conventional product-focused strategies, aiming to foster a deeper connection with consumers through immersive digital experiences.

Collaborating with Fortnite, Nike ventures into the virtual landscape with "Airphoria," a virtual metaverse experience was running a week in the end of June 2023. This venture seeks to strengthen the bond between Nike enthusiasts and the iconic Air Max sneakers. By embracing gamification, Nike aims to heighten engagement even in a landscape where skepticism toward the metaverse exists.

The concept of "Airphoria" is elegantly simple: players navigate a virtual world inspired by Air Max design codes in a quest known as the "sneaker hunt." Five revered Air Max "Grails" hover within the virtual space, including the Air Max 1 OG, Air Max 97, Air Max TW, Air Max Scorpion, and Air Max Pulse. Each of these sneakers represents a pivotal milestone in the history of this footwear line. The floating sneakers not only adorn the virtual world but also empower it. When these sneakers are displaced and scattered throughout the city at the game's onset, causing Airphoria to lose its vigor, players must work to return the shoes to their soaring state. Successful completion of this challenge grants players access to a vault, containing a virtual Air Max 1 '86 Back Bling reward.

The technological foundation of the Nike experience rests on Epic Games' Unreal Editor for Fortnite (UEFN), which was introduced in March. This tool empowers brands to create in-game experiences. Nike stands as an early adopter of this technology, offering insights to other brands. Epic Games' recent partnership with LVMH also signals a focus on technology encompassing 3D creation, augmented reality, and digital twins.

Apart from the immersive in-game journey, Nike is launching a tangible collection in North America that encompasses co-branded tees under the Nike Air Max x Airphoria banner. Players of Fortnite can acquire the outfits donned by the Airphoria characters, Airie and Maxxed Out Max, through the Fortnite Item Shop.

This initiative builds on Nike's past collaboration with Epic Games, exemplified by the introduction of virtual Air Jordan outfits and Travis Scott's Air Jordan 6s within Fortnite. Moreover, it aligns with Nike's broader metaverse and Web3 strategy, highlighted by its acquisition of the digital design studio Rtfkt and the introduction of Dot Swoosh, a Web3 platform aimed at engaging traditional brand enthusiasts. The success of the recent Dot Swoosh digital sneaker NFT sale and the collaboration with EA Sports in incorporating Nike virtual goods underline Nike's commitment to innovating within the intersection of sports, gaming, and culture.

By joining forces with Fortnite, Nike taps into the expansive gaming community. With a monthly active user base of approximately 70 million in 2023, Fortnite provides an already engaged audience, requiring less onboarding compared to Nike's Dot Swoosh endeavors. In a compelling linkage, Airphoria pack owners who complete the Fortnite sneaker hunt and connect their Epic Games and Nike accounts can add the Airphoria achievement to their Dot Swoosh collection, a step that signifies the fusion of physical and digital realms.

In conclusion, the convergence of gaming and fashion marketing presents a promising avenue for brands like Nike to deepen consumer connections and amplify engagement. By embracing the gaming world's immersive potential, brands can establish themselves as integral components of their target audiences' digital lives, unlocking innovative opportunities for growth and interaction.